Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Polish the Silver

I've been working on this post for a couple of weeks...forgive me for its tardiness.  I am in a class called "Teaching the Bible" right now, and I have been focused on lesson plans for this class.   As I was working, I came across these verses and really wanted to share what the Lord had given me.  

Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Silver is beautiful.  Gold gets a lot of attention because of its value, but I love silver.  I always have.  Silver, too, is quite valuable.  When it is new and unmarred, I love the purity and brightness of it. I love how it reflects like a mirror and seems so clean.  But silver tarnishes.  As silver interacts with sulfides in the air, it changes from the beautiful, reflective, white, gleaming metal to a black, burnished surface.  Sulfides in the air are the result of pollution...interestingly, before the industrial revolution, silver did not tarnish.

But imagine with me that you were given one big, beautiful piece of silver and told that was your admittance to the greatest event you could ever think of being invited to.  Go ahead, use your wildest dreams...Grammys, Oscars, Super Bowl...and there you go, you're invited.  And all you need to get in is that beautiful, shiny piece of silver that was given to you as a gift.  The problem is, the event is a few years away, and that silver is going to tarnish.  So what are you going to do?

In the preceding verses to the above, Paul is recounting to the believers in Philipi, the work done on the cross by Christ, our Savior.  And then he goes on to encourage them to continue doing what they are doing.  He uses the phrase, "work out your own salvation."  This phrase gets misunderstood a lot by those wanting to point to it to show that salvation is not once and done on the cross, but something that we need to work for.  The fact is, however, that our salvation was complete upon the cross when He said, "It is finished."  His death was the payment for our sins and when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).  When we were saved, it was done.  This is justification for our sins, we were made right.   The idea here, however, is that as God works in us (vs. 13), we work it out.   It is an idea of growing in maturity until the day of completion...Heaven.  It is about obedience and pushing towards the finish line with excellence.  Paul puts emphasis not on how much the Philippians knew, but how well they obeyed.  He knew that when God measures the character of a man, He puts the tape not around their head, but their heart.  And obedience is a heart matter.

How you behave in light of your salvation matters.  So Paul appeals to Christ's perfect obedience as he reminds them to "work out" their salvation...this is the idea of sanctification...becoming more Christ-like.  The world around us pollutes us, much like the sulfides pollute silver.  So in order to retain our luster and be transformed into the mirror-image of Christ, reflecting for all to see, we must POLISH and shine!  We work out our salvation because God is working in us.  This polishing is done by following Christ's example in our everyday lives.  I have created this acronym and found it helpful in reminding me how to do this as I seek to grow and mature.  Take a second to look at the first 11 verses of this chapter to see that obedient example to which Paul was referring.

  • P- Pray.  Spend quality time in prayer.  In verse 10, we see our call to this posture.  But all throughout scripture, God calls us to this intimate time with Him.  Jesus, Himself, even spent time seeking the Father in prayer.

  • O-Obey.  Obey in all things.  Although Jesus was God, we know that He was obedient to the Father.  Verse 8 reminds us that He was obedient even to the point of death.  We may not always like what scripture Has to say; it may be hard.  But God calls us to obedience.

  • L-Love.  Verses 1-2 remind us that we are to be in the same love.  Love is one of those words which gets easily distorted.  But to be in the same love as Paul, we must love Christ above all else.  This love must supersede all other selfish loves of this world.  This is how to truly experience unity in the body of Christ.  Love for others will pour out of a heart which is consumed with love for Christ.

  • I-Intentionality.  Intentionally look out for the interests of others.  It is natural to look out for your own interests, but in verses 3-5, we are reminded of the importance of looking out for others and putting their needs in front of your own.

  • S-Serve.  We are told that Christ came, not to be served, but to serve.  Verses 6-8 remind us that Christ willingly and voluntarily emptied Himself of His deity and took on the form of a man in order to serve mankind.  Have you considered the weight of this lately?  Have you asked yourself if you have humbled yourself and relinquished your rights lately?  We are so all-about our rights...but what about serving?  What about humbling yourself enough to give up your rights.  And not just once, but every day, all the time.

  • H-Honesty.  Speak the truth, honestly, all the time.  Tell others about what God has done in and through you, and speak about it often.  One of the greatest ways to grow in your own faith is by sharing it.  What Christ has done for us is GOOD NEWS, and it's not to be kept to ourselves!  Verse 11 tells us that at His name, all will confess.  This brings glory to God. 

So do you want shine?  Do you want to reflect His glory and be a mirror-image of the ONE who has done the work of salvation in you?  Then you have to POLISH.  Otherwise the toxins of the world will cause you to lose your luster.  Just like silver, you will never lose your value; your salvation is secure.  But as Christians, our maturity depends upon our upkeep and working out what God has worked in.  Knowledge plus maturity brings wisdom, so polish the silver.

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